Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vintage Recipes Lost and Found , wrap up of a secret supper in Melbourne 10 January 2015

This is a long due post on our summer secret supper Vintage Recipes Lost & Found in Melbourne. Apologies it has taken me so long as been travelling, working as private chef for weddings and 60 person pop-ups, whilst also on hunt to find a new job in my proper profession in brand strategy. Phew.

Our Vintage Recipes Lost & Found secret supper in Melbourne was inspired by the desire to look to the past, our grandparents, our great grandparents for delicious recipes and foods that evoked wonderful memories.

Big thanks to our friend and talented photographer Sutejo Tan for taking these beautiful shots! Gorgeous!

Between our Once Upon A Table team  - myself, Bridget, Sarah and Sutejo we had Chinese, Scottish, Irish and Indonesian family background and so I knew it would be a great brief to create an evening of delicious memories. 

Evonne and sommelier Jude from Brown Brothers generously sponsored the evening with their top of the range Patricia Brown Brother wines which are named in honor of the family's matriarch. What a perfect fit!

Bridget worked her styling magic and transformed our host Sarah's house filled with toddler toys and random stuff into a room of trinkets, antiques and memories.

The menu included Sarah's Scottish Grandpa's scotch and homemade ginger ale, 
grandma's homemade crumpets, and modern twist on an 1884 oyster fritter recipe from a recipe book from the White House, regional lamb rib Chinese dish from Xinjiang where my great grandpa is from....and importantly a lovely selection of Patricia wines from Brown Brothers to pair with the food.

Big thanks to our host Sarah and Graham. Sarah was a guest at our first pop up in Melbourne 'Love Your Home' and generously offered to host. She loved the whole secret supper club experience and volunteered to help at our Coco De Mer Seychelles supper club and has since joined our Once Upon A Table team!

Bridget and I on taste-testing quality control duty for the Brown Brothers Patricia 

Our hungry, thirsty adventurous guests arriving to a suprise evening of vintage recipes, Brown Brothers wines, suprise home venue and an awesome group of interesting strangers.


We started the evening by popping open the 2008 Brown Brothers Patricia Pinot Noir and Chardonnay Sparkling which we learned was made in the traditional Champagne method. It has a beautiful silky effervescence, and citrus, delicate blossom, yet savoury richness yum!! Paired perfectly with the oyster fritter recipe I tweaked from a 1884 White House cook book chapter on 50 ways to prepare oysters...with a modern twist of homemade wasabi tartare sauce.


I made mini versions of Nana's fluffy homemade crumpets to go with Sarah's smoke trout pate and homemade mini pickles yum!!! Pretty moreish.

A dish from Sarahs' Scottish roots - Skullen Kink, a velvety creamy fish chowder-like soup. So cute in vintage tea cups.

The dream Once Upon A Table team - Bridget, Sarah and myself Angie and my amazing mum (below!).

Big thanks Mum who helped me individually roll homemade layered spring onion pancakes until 1am the night before.That picture on the wall is of my gorgeous mum when she was little.

For the main event, we traveled to China, to an area in north western China called Xinjiang where my great grandfather is from. This region has a big Muslim community and the tastes, flavours are not traditional Chinese. In Xinjiang  alot of lamb is eaten and punchy fragrant Middle Eastern spices like cumin.

 I first tasted this incredible Xinjiang lamb dish when I was working in China. First bite and I was in heaven! OMG! I was determined to learn and perfect this dish and share with other foodies.

I can speak fluently but unfortunately I can't read Chinese so I got Mum to research 20 or so variation of the recipes, I then trialed a few variations before getting the perfect combination.

The method is to marinate the rib rack in spice mix overnight, then braise the lamb rib rack whole slowly in lovely mix of spices, spring onions, chinese wine, stock, soy sauce. The last stage is let it cool and encrust the entire skin with loads of whole cumin and coriander seeds, chilli, sesame seeds and sweet potato flour. You then fry the entire lamb rib rack in hot oil. The result is a incredibly fragrant, flavourful crunchy crust where the whole cumin and coriander seeds pop in  your mouth
followed by soft melt in the mouth, pull apart lamb ribs....pretty amazing if I say so myself. 

Guests loved the lamb, tucking into about 4-6 ribs each!

Mum and I also made homemade Taiwanese (where she grew up) hand pulled spring onion pancakes and lip - chilli chewy sweet potatoe noodles.


Brown Brothers Sommelier Jude talked us through the delicious Brown Brothers Patricia 2009 Shiraz which was peppery, spicy, rich, ripe, intense to complement the big flavours of the cumin lamb. 

Guests also tasted the Brown Brothers Patricia 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. The aim of the Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon is always to showcase the very best that the vintage had to offer.It is highly perfumed and very complex, the wine retains a sultry elegance that makes it a very fresh, clean and lively example of the variety.

For dessert Jude cracked open a lovely dessert wine the 2009 Patricia Noble Riesling made in the same style as first done 50 years ago. It is full of rich apricot and marmalade with luscious fruit sweetness it is balanced by fresh zesty acidy...perfect to go with a dessert inspired from the Brown Brothers matriarch Patricia herself.

I made mini versions of Patricia's upside down pineapple, caramel and polenta cakes with spice cherries and then added my own twist of rum caramel and a slice of spiced roasted juicy whole pineapple slices...oh yes and homemade toasted coconut ice-cream and crunchy coconut flakes....needless to say all the dessert plates were literally licked clean!! The ultimate compliment!

By the end of the night our group of interesting foodie strangers were laughing like old friends. Bellies full, lots of empty wine bottles, happy smiles...the way we like to end a night.

It's a bit of tradition to give our guests a little suprise gift to take away. Sarah whipped up some cute granny inspired biscuits wrapped lovingly in heart shaped boxes and dollies.

To experience one of our Once Upon A Table secret suppers sign up to our mailing list
at onceuponatable@gmail.com.

Our next event will be in Melbourne on Sat 11 July. Each event is original and never to be repeated again. The Sat 11 July secret supper will be Enchanted Forest with special sponsor and partners the Flowerdale farm who supply the most interesting and unusual edible flowers and microherbs to the top restaurants and chefs around the world!! 

Tickets are very limited to 20 guests and go on sale Friday 19 June at 10am sharp by email onceuponatable@gmail.com.

As always the venue, menu, guests will all be a suprise!

If you know anyone that would like to volunteer, host,  let us know!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Coco De Mer secret supper in Melbourne 18 October 2014. Sharing family recipes from the Seychelles.

Saturday 18th October was a beautiful sunny day in Melbourne....perfect for a tropical feast and secret supper dinner 'Coco De Mer'.

At our last event 'Lost in Jerusalem', guests Al and Eva had such a wonderful time, they kindly offered to host the next Once Upon A Table pop up dinner. We couldn't resist their their suggestion to cook Seychelles food (their family origin),  coinciding with Al's mum Christine's 2 week visit to Melbourne so she could help guest chef with the Once Upon A Table team, taking over their beautiful home in Malvern and most importantly the chance to have Al and Eva be our gracious and very helpful hosts. Big Thanks!

In preparation....Bridget and Sarah hung fishing nets, shells and scattered coconuts, surfboards, orchids and sand (collected from St Kilda beach from Bridget's 2.5 yr old toddler Lily the day before). Chef Vitti, Sophie and Guest chef Christine were busy in the kitchen cooking up tantalizing smells of coconut, curries, pineapple, lime and chilli. Our talented photographer Sutejo Tan started working his magic, whilst our Seychelles DJ Gerry arrived to set up , even Marjorie a lovely lady from the Seychelles club popped in to say hi and good luck for the night. 

Our guests started arriving and were welcomed with Sophie's Coco De Mer colada with fresh pineapple and grapefruit and tasty little nibbles of kingfish with ginger and sesame on quinoa crisps and spiced chickpeas on betel leaves by Chef Vitti. It was an extra special night as two of our guests were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary we were honored to celebrate with them!


As with all our secret suppers, it takes a certain type of person to sign up to a dinner where they don't know the people, menu, or venue...we always have the most interesting collection of guests from all types of backgrounds, passions, lifestages who are all up for a night of suprise and meeting new interesting people.

This particular night, there was a warm, happy and excitable feeling in the air....when they sat down they were like children opening up their message in a bottle...their menu for the night.



Vittoria welcomed the guests and expressed our thanks to Al, Eva and Christine for their time and generosity.

Our wonderful host Al, introduced his family, talked about the Seychelles and what it was like growing up in such a relaxed, beautiful place... and also about how they couldn't resist offering to host after attending as a guest at the previous event.


To start...seafood bisque with lobster tails and tarragon


 A big thanks to our sponsors Royal Hamam crockery, Kwencher Premium beer and The Collection Fine Wines and our passionate sommelier Andy , hubby of Chef Sophie.

 Maurice BBQ's the Red Snapper in Banana leafs whilst our host's dad Serge help fillet. ...


Our little helper fairies Leah and Alyssa (Vitti's angel daughters) served hot steaming bowls our host's mum Christine's famous homemade fish and coconut curry, beef and tamarind curry, silverside and eggplant curry ...delicious!!!

There was lots of wine, happy bellies, chatting and LOTS of laughing and story telling. 

Then our surprise Seychelles DJ Gerry pumped up the music and disco lights, and we danced the night away to some traditional Seychelles songs. We had a special song request from Al..... and it was so nice to see him and Eva, and Christine and Serge, dancing together, like old times. Lots of big smiles and arms waving in the air. All the guests and Once Upon A Table got into the Seychelles groove.

Chef Vitti's beautiful Coconut, lime and lemongrass pudding with coconut crisps, passionfruit curd and dehydrated pineapple was served and the Once Upon A Table team made sure they had a whole desert each!!..... It was too good to miss out.

Surprise gifts of coconut, pineapple and pandan slice and tropical candles were given and it was time to kick off our shoes and have a well deserved drink with our friendly, happy guests.

Big thanks to our guests for being adventurous and signing up for our secret dinners...also for the lovely compliments...one well seasoned Melbourne restaurant goer said it was the best dining out experience she has ever had! Another guest said the chance to meet some of the most genuine, interesting people was such a bonus.

I think that's the best part about Once Upon A Table...the chance to meet like-minded fun, friendly people looking for adventure over delicious food and wine.

Once again...great work to the Once Upon A Table team - Vitti, Sophie, Bridget, Guest chef Christine, Andy and talented photographer Sutejo Tan. Also big thanks to our angel helpers Sarah N, Sarah L, Maurice, Alyssa, Leah, Liz. 

We are always looking for other amateur passionate cooks, volunteers, hosts and interesting collaborators! get in touch at onceuponatable@gmail.com.

Stay tuned....we are having another exclusive secret dinner on Saturday 10 Jan 'Vintage Recipes Lost and Forgotten'.